Suddenly, I’m in the eighth grade again.

15 01 2007

I still have 100 pages or so of Ulysses to read before my next class on Wednesday evening, but I just keep putting the reading off. All weekend, I found other things to, well, occupy my time. I rented a car this weekend, and I made ample use of it. I went to the farmers’ market, the mall, the coolest beer distributor in the area, and my favorite diner—where the fried cheddar cheese cubes are delicious. I met a friend down the road in Delaware for coffee. In fact, I’ve been to three different Starbucks stores this weekend, one of them three times. Oh, and I watched a lot of televised poker. And right now, I’m procrastinating by doing laundry. See? That’s desperate! Oh, and I guess I’m procrastinating by blogging, too. (That’s not so desperate.)

So, except for an hour this morning, I’ve been avoiding Ulysses. It’s not that I hate the book. I don’t. In fact, I enjoy the class. And when I’m in the right mood, I sort of enjoy the challenge of Mr. Joyce’s prose. I think my problem is just the fairly typical procrastination of a perfectionist. I like to do things well, and sometimes I find myself thinking that I’m too busy right now to do the proposed task. I think I’ll be better at the task, like reading Ulysses, when I can only find a few extra minutes. Of course, there rarely are a few extra minutes. This is especially true once the procrastination cycle has started: I end up wasting the time I could’ve devoted to the task.

I’ve been this way for a long time, of course—since childhood. Until I was in grad school, when I sort of figured things out a little bit, I was nearly always procrastinating or, worse, having to rush through something because I’d put it off until the deadline loomed.

Now I find myself doing it again. Ugh.

But I refuse to be a slave to my own personality, um, defects…so I’m blocking time off today, on my day off, to finish my reading assignment. I absolutely do not want to find myself staying up late tomorrow or, worse, reading on my lunch hour on Wednesday. I’m doing the reading, all of it, today.

I’m just going to fold the laundry first. (Hee.)




3 responses

18 01 2007

Great idea on joining the Ulysses class. I’ve thought of doing the same sort of thing myself; how do you like it? Perhaps the group context would help me move past my Ulyssesblock (which persists at about page 150 or so!). Plus, like you said, it forces you to abide by a reading timeline and avoid the siren call of the washing machine!

18 01 2007

I like the class quite a bit. As you point out, there’s the subtle pressure to keep reading. But I also enjoy hearing from the teacher, a Joyce scholar, who knows Ulysses like a Talmudic scholar knows Leviticus. I’m also impressed with several of my classmates, who frequently notice things I don’t. Actually, the book contains so many patterns and references, that we’re all picking up different sub-sets of them.

23 01 2007

Sounds very cool. I tend to be skeptical of the quality of classroom-style literary conversations (too many insipid class “discussions” in college). But in this case, since everyone *wants* to be there (rather than *has* to be there), I imagine the level of discourse is correspondingly elevated.

And your comment about people picking up on different things is so true. When you do luck out with a group of enthusiastic classmates, it’s amazing how much all their pooled knowledge–language, cultural and ethnic traditions, religious backgrounds, etc.–can illuminate a text.

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